New publication: ‚Idealbildung, Sakralisierung, Religion‘

The Campus publishing house will publish a new book entitled ‚Idealbildung, Sakralisierung, Religion‘ (Ideal Formation, Sacralisation, Religion) on 19 January 2022, which brings together contributions to Hans Joas‘ ‚Die Macht des Heiligen‘ (The Power of the Sacred). Editors are: Magnus Schlette, Bettina Hollstein, Matthias Jung and Wolfgang Knöbl.

What drives the history of religion, how can the dynamics of cultural innovation be understood? Hans Joas gives a concise answer to this with the title of his book ‚The Power of the Sacred‘. However, he also takes the trouble to substantiate this answer on 600 pages between the covers of the book. In the volume now appearing, internationally renowned scholars engage with Joas‘ ambitious attempt to develop a historiography of religion and culture on this side of the common universal-historical narrative of secularisation and disenchantment. Contributors include Christoph Seibert, Jürgen Straub, Charles Taylor and Silvia Terpe.

The editors: Magnus Schlette is a lecturer in philosophy at the FEST in Heidelberg and a private lecturer in philosophy at the University of Erfurt. Bettina Hollstein is Managing Director at the Max-Weber-Kolleg at the University of Erfurt. Matthias Jung is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Koblenz. Wolfgang Knöbl is Director of the Hamburg Institute for Social Research.

Magnus Schlette, Bettina Hollstein, Matthias Jung and Wolfgang Knöbl (eds.)
Idealbildung, Sakralisierung, Religion
Beiträge zu Hans Joas‘ ‚Die Macht des Heiligen‘
(series: Soziologie/Soziologische Theorien)
Campus publishing house, 2022
ISBN/EAN: 9783593511405
521 pages
39,95 EUR

New Publication: ‚Religion in the Roman Empire‘

Kohlhammer will publish a new volume in the series ‚Die Religionen der Menschheit‘ at the end of January. The title of the English-language book, edited by Jörg Rüpke, Greg Woolf, Richard Gordon and others, is ‚Religion in the Roman Empire‘.

The Roman Empire was home to a fascinating variety of different cults and religions. Its enormous size, the lack of a precisely definable state religion and the constant exchange with the religions and cults of conquered peoples and neighbouring cultures led to a multifaceted religious beliefs and practices. This volume offers an overview of central aspects of cult and religion in the Roman Empire, including the distinction between public and private cult, the complex interrelationships between different religious traditions, their mutual developments and spreads, and the diversity of regional differences, rituals, religious texts and artefacts.

On 7 February 2022, the editors, Jörg Rüpke (Max-Weber-Kolleg of the University of Erfurt) and Greg Woolf (UCLA, USA), will present their new publication. The event will take place online and in English. You can find more information in our event calendar.

Jörg Rüpke, Greg Woolf, Richard Gordon a.o. (eds.)
Religion in the Roman Empire
(series: ‚Die Religionen der Menschheit‘)
Kohlhammer, 2022
ISBN: 3170292242
319 pages

New publication: „Spätmoderne in der Krise – Was leistet die Gesellschaftstheorie?“

Under the title „Spätmoderne in der Krise – Was leistet die Gesellschaftstheorie?“ (Late Modernity in Crisis – What Does Social Theory Achieve?) a new book by Hartmut Rosa and Andreas Reckwitz will be published by Suhrkamp/Insel in October.

In times of profound social upheavals and manifest crises, the time has come for fundamental analyses that take a look at contemporary society as a whole, examine its structural features and dynamics and perhaps even point out ways out of the crisis-like development. Recently, Andreas Reckwitz and Hartmut Rosa have presented large-scale but very differently accentuated theories of society, which decisively determine the current debates on late modernity. In this joint book, they now enter into a critical dialogue.

Based on the shared concern that the analysis of modernity as a social formation belongs at the centre of a sociology that takes seriously its task of enlightening society about itself, they first unfold their own socio-theoretical perspectives in extensive essays: while Reckwitz chooses „social practices“, „contingency“ and „singularisation“ as guiding concepts, Rosa opts for „acceleration“, „increase“ and „resonance“. In the second part of the book, they again sharpen their positions, work out commonalities, but also mark fundamental differences – in a direct conversation moderated by Martin Bauer.

The authors
Hartmut Rosa is Professor of General and Theoretical Sociology at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena and Director of the Max-Weber-Kolleg at the University of Erfurt.

Andreas Reckwitz is Professor of General Sociology and Sociology of Culture at Humboldt University Berlin and currently a Fellow at the Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles. In 2019, he received the Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation. The Society of Singularities was awarded the Bavarian Book Prize 2017 and was shortlisted for the Leipzig Book Fair Prize in the non-fiction/essay category in 2018.

Andreas Reckwitz and Hartmut Rosa
Spätmoderne in der Krise – Was leistet die Gesellschaftstheorie?
Suhrkamp / Insel, Oktober 2021
ISBN: 978-3-518-58775-1
300 pages
28 EUR

New Publication: „Critical Theory and New Materialisms“

A new publication by Hartmut Rosa, Christoph Henning and Arthur Bueno entitled „Critical Theory and New Materialisms“ has just been published by Routledge. It is based on a conference on this topic in Erfurt.

Despite its origins in „historical materialism“, critical theory has had little to say about questions of materiality in recent decades: Jürgen Habermas‘ „intersubjective turn“ resulted in research foci on normativity, on intersubjective recognition and modes of justification. Questions of ecology, stubbornness and the effective power of things were rather neglected. For some decades now, these have been the focus of „new materialism“ following Karen Barad, Jane Bennett or Rosi Braidotti. Until now, the two currents have had little to do with each other, and there have even been isolated instances of hostility. This volume brings representatives of both currents into a discourse and discusses how critical theory and new materialism can inspire each other – and where differences remain.

Hartmut Rosa, Christoph Henning and Arthur Bueno (Eds.)
Critical Theory and New Materialisms
Routledge, 2021
ISBN: 9780367257040
216 pages 
hardback: 139,96 EuUR  / ebook: 26,94 EUR

New publication: „Andere Klarheit. Versuch über die Verklärung in Kunst, Religion und Philosophie“

Wallstein Verlag has just published a new book by Markus Kleinert entitled „Andere Klarheit“ (Other Clarity). It is – as the subtitle promises – an attempt at transfiguration in art, religion and philosophy. The book is also Kleinert’s habilitation thesis, which was awarded the Max Weber Prize for Young Researchers.

When hearing the term „transfiguration“, one might not first think that this could be a key concept for modernity. Transfiguration is called in religious contexts the elevation of the soul into the afterlife or the exaltation of a human being to a god, but above all the term is associated with that peculiar Bible episode of Christ’s transformation on a mountain. Ideas that are not exactly familiar in modern, secularised societies. But even the everyday understanding of transfiguration in the sense of a glossing over does not seem to suggest that transfiguration could be a key concept of modernity.

This makes it all the more exciting to read the book „Andere Klarheit. Versuch über die Verklärung in Kunst, Religion und Philosophie“ by Markus Kleinert (together with Hermann Deuser, head of the Kierkegaard Research Centre at the Max Weber College), which is dedicated to the concept of transfiguration in modernity and shows, on the basis of authors such as Luther or the Baroque poet Greiffenberg, up to Goethe, Nietzsche and Leopold Ziegler, how this motif, aligned with an idea of transformation, refers to an optimistic view of man and the world. In doing so, he also shows that such religious ideas are still effective socio-culturally today – in part without direct reference to religion – as illustrated not least by a look at American and Russian history.

Kleinert’s study, which also includes the visual arts (Raphael) and music (Wagner), shows the productivity of the concept of transfiguration, with its proximity to the Enlightenment as well as to glory, for understanding our modern culture as well as our attitudes and lifestyles.

Markus Kleinert
Andere Klarheit. Versuch über die Verklärung in Kunst, Religion und Philosophie

Wallstein Verlag, 2021
ISBN 978-3-8353-3992-7
277 pages
29,90 Euro

New publication: „Owning Land, Being Women“

Under the title „Owning Land, Being Women. Inheritance and Subjecthood in India.“ De Gruyter has now published the dissertation of Amrita Mondal, who is researching the property rights of Indian women at the Max-Weber-Kollege of the University of Erfurt.

„Owning Land, Being Women“ enquires into the processes that establish inheritance as a unique form of property relation in law and society. It focuses on India, examining the legislative processes that led to the 2005 amendment of the Hindu Succession Act 1956, along with several interconnected welfare policies. Scholars have understood these Acts as a response to growing concerns about women’s property rights in developing countries.

In re-reading these Acts and exploring the wider nexus of Indian society in which the legislation was drafted, this study considers how questions of family structure and property rights contribute to the creation of legal subjects and demonstrates the significance of the politico-economic context of rights formulation. On the basis of an ethnography of a village in West Bengal, this book brings the moral axis of inheritance into sharp focus, elucidating the interwoven dynamics of bequest, distribution of family wealth and reciprocity of care work that are integral to the logic of inheritance. It explains why inheritance rights based on the notion of individual property rights are inadequate to account for practices of inheritance.

Mondal shows that inheritance includes normative structures of affective attachment and expectations, i.e., evaluatively-charged imaginaries of the future that coordinate present practices. These insights pose questions of the dominant resource-based conceptualisation of inherited property in the debate on women’s empowerment. In doing so, this work opens up a line of investigation that brings feminist rights discourse into conversation with ethics, enriching the liberal theory of gender justice.

Amrita Mondal
Owning Land, Being Women
Inheritance and Subjecthood in India

(series: De Gruyter Studies in Global Asia, 2)
De Gruyter,2021
ISBN: 9783110690361 (Print)
ISBN: 9783110690491 (E-Book)
265 pages
64,85 EUR

New publication: „Religion and its History. A Critical Inquiry“

Routledge has just published a new book by Jörg Rüpke entitled „Religion and its History. A Critical Inquiry“, a new book by Jörg Rüpke has just been published.

„Religion and its History“ offers a reflection of our operative concept of religion and religions, developing a set of approaches that bridge the widely assumed gulf between analysing present religion and doing history of religion. Religious Studies have adapted a wide range of methodologies from sociological tool kits to insights and concepts from disciplines of social and cultural studies. Their massive historical claims, which typically idealize and reify communities and traditions, and build normative claims thereupon, lack a critical engagement on the part of the researchers.

This book radically rethinks and critically engages with these biases. It does so by offering neither an abridged global history of religion nor a small handbook of methodology. Instead, this book presents concepts and methods that allow the analysis of contemporary and past religious practices, ideas, and institutions within a shared framework.

The author, Jörg Rüpke, is Professor of Comparative Religion at the University of Erfurt and Vice Director of the Max-Weber-Kolleg.

Jörg Rüpke
Religion and its History. A Critical Inquiry
(series: Routledge Studies in Religion)
Routledge, 2021
ISBN 9780367677084
174 pages
Hardcover: 120 £ // Ebook: 25,89 £

New publication: „Biographies of the Reformation“

A new book by Martin Christ, Junior Fellow at the Max Weber College of the University of Erfurt, has now been published by Oxford University Press in the series „Studies in German History“. It is entitled „Biographies of the Reformation: Religious Change and Confessional Coexistence in Upper Lusatia, 1520-1635“.

In 288 pages, the book provides a new narrative of the Reformation and shows that the concept of the „urban Reformation“, in which cities are seen as centres of Lutheranism, needs to be reassessed, especially in cities in East Germany. It shows that in a region like Upper Lusatia, which did not have a political centre and underwent a complex Reformation with many different actors, there was no clear confessionalization. By approaching the Upper Lusatian Reformation through important individuals, Martin Christ shows how they had to negotiate their religiosity, resulting in cross-confessional exchange and syncretism.

The Society for Renaissance Studies invites all interested parties to an online presentation of Martin Christ’s book on 1 June at 7 pm. Please register at

Martin Christ
Biographies of a Reformation. Religious Change and Confessional Coexistence in Upper Lusatia, 1520-1635
(series: Studies in German History)
Oxford University Press, 2021
ISBN 978-0-19-886815-6
288 pages

New Publication: „Erfüllung im Diesseits“

A new book by Josef Römelt, moral theologian at the University of Erfurt, has been published by Herder under the title „Erfüllung im Diesseits“ (Fulfilment in this world). It looks at the question of how contemporary utopias challenge the Christian message of salvation.

The religious offer of a final anchorage in God, in a life after death, is challenged today by a widespread fascination with this world, with life in the here and now. Josef Römelt’s book explores the spiritual atmosphere of our time and enters into a dialogue with the popular thinkers Yuval Noah Harari („Homo Deus“) and Hartmut Rosa („Resonance“), whose utopias have found a great echo.

Harari stands for a functional-rational, technically-perfected view of reality, as represented by the so-called transhumanists. They promise an optimisation of life in this world with the help of natural science and technology. Hartmut Rosa, on the other hand, has presented an influential counter-vision with his theory of resonance and resonant human relationships with the world. Both exponents of the intellectual atmosphere of our time fundamentally challenge the Christian message of salvation. Josef Römelt shows how the Christian faith can find a new, human-friendly language in the confrontation with Harari and Rosa and thus open up important resources of meaning: It becomes an invitation to the human longing for deep vitality, joie de vivre and a love of life, to trust oneself even in the borderline experiences of failure, illness and death.

New publication: The limits of universal rule

The field of „comparative imperiology“, i.e. the comparative study of empires, is both relatively old and very new. It was inaugurated by S.N. Eisenstadt in a pioneering study published almost 60 years ago (1963). In the 21. century, however, it has become one of the fastest growing fields of historical research worldwide. In a collaborative effort, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Free University of Berlin and the University of Erfurt, now joined by the University of Munich, are pursuing a project funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation that provides a systematic look at empires.

It elaborates on problems that imperial political structures have faced around the world: How did empires in different parts of the world and in different periods address these problems?

The project is based on a series of thematic workshops bringing together scholars working on different empires. They cover the five major centres of civilisation in the Old World (East Asia, Europe, Inner Asia, the Middle East and South Asia) where imperial formations developed through interaction and cross-fertilisation. For each of these macro-regions, a distinction is made between the first wave of empire formation (mostly in the second half of the first millennium BC), the second wave (in the middle of the first millennium AD) and the third wave triggered by the formation of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century.

A first volume with research results has now been published by Cambridge University Press: The Limits of Universal Rule: Eurasian Empires Compared, edited by Yuri Pines, Michal Biran (Hebrew University) and Jörg Rüpke (Max Weber-Kolleg, University of Erfurt). Based on a conference held in Erfurt and Eisenach in 2015, it examines the factors that facilitated the expansion and contraction of Eurasian empires: from ideology to ecology, from economic and military considerations to the changing composition of imperial elites.

More information about the publication